Archive | August, 2011

How Many Members of Congress Could Pass Econ 101?

Posted on 22 August 2011

In July 2011, the debate over the country’s then-$14 trillion national debt reached a fever pitch amid competing claims about the economic wisdom of cutting government spending and raising taxes. Congress will return to the merits of a deficit reduction plan later this fall, but will first consider a variety of proposals aimed a spurring job creation and revitalizing the country’s stagnant labor market.

In both the jobs and debt debates, there have been no shortages of competing claims about how a particular piece of legislation will impact the economy. These appeals to economic expertise beg the question: How many member of Congress have an academic background that provided them with a basic understanding of how the economy works?

The answer, it turns out, is not many. Publicly available data show that over three-quarters of members of Congress—nearly 8 out of 10—lack an academic background in business or economics. That includes 8.4 percent who majored in an economics-related field, and 13.7 percent who majored in a business or accounting-related field. Over half  majored in either government-related fields or the humanities.

Download a research brief with the full results.

Standard & Poor’s Downgrades U.S. Credit Rating

Posted on 20 August 2011

On the evening of August 5th, credit rating agency Standard & Poor’s announced that it was lowering the United States’ credit rating from AAA to AA+.

“Lowering the nation’s rating to one notch below AAA, the credit rating company said “political brinkmanship” in the debate over the debt had made the U.S. government’s ability to manage its finances “less stable, less effective and less predictable.” It said the bipartisan agreement reached this week to find at least $2.1 trillion in budget savings “fell short” of what was necessary to tame the nation’s debt over time and predicted that leaders would not be likely to achieve more savings in the future.”

Read the whole story here.